Web Summit – first conference day

Argh, I started writing about my Web Summit 2017 experience here, but I just got to the Opening Night, I didn’t even make it to the actual conference. By now I’m sure I will have forgotten most of it, highly annoying! I wanted to try to save some of that inspiration and motivation I gained during the conference.

But I’ll try to report on the first day of the conference (and the rest cause it would disturb me too much to leave it unfinished). Once I get started I might remember more and more, who knows.

So… Anna and I lived very conveniently, when I think back. It wasn’t our original booking because that turned out to be a disaster. But Anna found a sweet, modest spot that was on the same tube as the Summit. But it was before the big crossing station, which meant we could get on the tube get a seat and the next station all the rest squeezed in. Perfect! It was close too.

The conference area was huge, there’s 4 big tents with exhibition areas and stages for the different talks. And then there’s the big arena with the big names and topics. Web Summit is actually 25 different conferences in one. Some of them cover several days and some just one. “My” day was thursday – the Fullstack day. But I had plenty on my custom-made schedule for all the days. More talks than I could fit in and physically run between.

One of the first things we did was head to the Centre stage to listen to Jared Cohen from Google Jigsaw, which is a collection of project with one objective – make the internet safer. The project covers areas like safe conversation, cyber attacks, extremism and so on. For example they’re using Machine learning to curate online conversation, he talked a lot about “online toxicity” and how to combat it.

When he talked about violent extremism recruiting online he shared the insight that what matters most to young viewers is how well the video answers their questions and not the quality of the video itself, which is very interesting. Depending on your message it could be a good or a bad thing to be able to effectively influence young people with a small budget, but well thought through message.

An ongoing theme throughout the 3 days, was the responsibility of the tech community, brought down to every developer individually, to take responsibility of what they are taking part in building, no matter how small.

Google Jigsaw

I also listened to the topic of “When machines outsmart us…” with Max Tegmark author of “Life 3.0: Being human in the age of artificial intelligence”. This was one of the things I made a note of;

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One of the things I had been looking forward to the most (and I was not alone in this) was seeing Sofia the Robot and Einstein the Robot from Hanson Robotics. Ben Goertzel, Chief Scientist of Hanson Robotics, was the curator for a debate set to take place between the 2 robots. Sofia said she will take our jobs, but that’s OK. (Ben explaining because we can have more time to do more creative things. One must wonder if he’s the one putting that idea in her head in the first place – literally)

The surprise of the day was ending up by the Swedish hotspot and meeting people there. We were told about a conversation about the topic of women in tech and we decided to come back for that (although I was told it was about FemTech – which is something totally different to me).

The panel was Ishtar Touailat from Tieto (and IT Woman of the year in Sweden 2016), Ditte Hammarström from Snowfire and Sofie Lindblom from ideation360 and moderated by Jonas Almeling from Business Sweden. Very interesting discussion, but as I remember Ishtar commenting – it would be nice to not have to discuss the issue itself year after year, and just involve women in the actual tech discussions going on. It’s troubling it still has to be discussed as well – that it’s still needed, but it is I guess and it was on the main stage several times as well.

Sofie Lindblom, Ditte och Ishtar
Sofie Lindblom, Ditte Hammarström and Ishtar Touailat discussing Women in tech.

After the conference finished we headed over to the Sunset Summit that was in direct connection with the conference area. We got a taste of Portuguese culture.

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After this we headed to a mingle hosted by the Swedish embassy, which was a very interesting network opportunity. We had a brief stroll along the Night summit (read chasing after the shortest cue to the bar). Before being dragged away from one queue by our company I met a tech podcaster from the UK (I love listening to podcasts in particular tech podcasts when working out), in the next place I met a young, female engineer student (who also works out to podcasts!) and had an interesting conversation about Bryan Johnsson (see my previous post).

This was the first conference day of the Summit. I met so many people in queues, sitting down for food, well, everywhere really. I love that. Love hearing entrepreneurs as well and their ideas and passion.

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